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VISITS FROM PRES’T LINCOLN AND GEN. HALLECK. 159
Arrival of Reinforcements.–Visit of President Lincoln.-Attack by the Enemy.-Reconnoissance to Malvern Hills. -A Deserter drummed out of Camp.—A change of base decided upon. - Return March to Fortress Monroe.-Scenes by the way.
REINFORCEMENTS began to come up the river, so that in a few days the army numbered one hundred and twenty thousand men.
On the morning of the 8th President Lincoln arrived unexpectedly from Fortress Monroe, and was welcomed with a salute of thirty-two guns. After spending a few hours at Headquarters, he proceeded to review the various commands, accompanied by General McClellan. As he rode along the lines, and observed the thinned ranks and torn and tattered flags, he exhibited much emotion. The review was not completed until 9 o'clock, the moon shining brightly, and a cool, fresh breeze blowing from off the water. General Halleck likewise made his appearance on the 24th, and inspected the army.
The enemy soon began to show themselves on the opposite and higher bank of the river, and in the course of a few days increased to the nunber of several thousand. About midnight, on the 31st, they
RECONNOISSANCE TO MALVERN HILLS.
opened a vigorous fire from three batteries on our shipping and camps. Many of the shells struck in the vicinity of the Thirty-third. Our gunboats returned the fire, and, with the assistance of the siege-guns, drove them away, at the end of two hours. Only two men were killed, and twelve wounded, by this night attack.
On the following morning eight hundred troops crossed the river in boats, and burned all the buildings, and cut down the trees in the vicinity.
Monday, August 4th, a force consisting of infantry, cavalry and artillery, under General Hooker, proceeded back to Malvern Hills, and after a brief engagement re-occupied them, the enemy retreating. They remained here until Wednesday, and then returned to camp. On the following Friday, great rejoicing was occasioned in General Hooker's Division, on the reception of the news that he had been promoted to a Major Generalship. The troops assembled en-masse at his headquarters, and cheered vociferously for “ Fighting Joe,” while various bands discoursed national airs. Several hundred lighted candles were fixed in the surrounding trees, imparting a beautiful effect to the scene. The same day Colonel Taylor left for the north on recruiting service, taking with him Lieutenant Corning and a Sergeant from each Company. "Gen. Davidson also departed, having been ordered to the Department of Missouri. Lieutenant-Colonel Corning, being now senior officer of the Brigade, assumed command of it.
A soldier who had run away from the Golden's
DEPARTURE FROM HARRISON'S LANDING.
Farm fight, was paraded before the Division with his head half-shaved, and a placard marked “ Coward,” suspended upon his back. He was also sentenced to forfeit all back pay, and spend the remainder of his time of enlistment at the Tortugas. All the Regiments were drawn up in line of battle, and the culprit marched back and forth before them, while a band played “the rogue's march.”
Owing to the movements of the enemy in front of General Pope, unhealthy location of the army at Harrison's Landing, and because they had come to l'egard the Peninsula route to Richmond impracticable, and lost confidence in General McClellan's capacity, the military authorities at Washington decided, early in the month of August, to recall the army from the Peninsula. General McClellan was strongly opposed to this, declaring to them that if fifty thousand reinforcements were furnished him, he would yet enter the rebel capital. His wishes, however, were not complied with, and preparations for a “ change of base” were commenced. Smith's Division received orders to be in readiness to march at daylight, Thursday, August 14th. It did not move, however, until the following Saturday. All the necessary preparations were conducted with secrecy and dispatch; wooden guns were planted on the fort which the Thirty-third had assisted in building, and sentinels of straw were posted a few feet apart on the ramparts. All day Thursday and Friday, other portions of the army marched by, the artillery and wagon trains proceeding at night. Generals
ON THE MARCH.
Porter's, Keyes', and Sumner's Corps proceeded by the Charles City Court House, and General Heintzelman's by the Cole's Ford route. The object of the previous movement to Malvern was now explained, it having been made to mislead the enemy, and cause them to think that another advance was intended.
About four o'clock Saturday afternoon, Smith's Division took up the line of march. As the troops moved away, the enemy who, apparently for the first time, had discovered the movement, drew near and fired for some time at the sham pickets or sentinels, occasioning many humorous remarks from the soldiers, such as, “They won't drive them,” “Why don't you drop him, Mr. Rebel.” “How are you, sharp-shooter,” &c., &c. The column was forty miles in length, General Porter, who was at the head, having then reached Williamsburg. The Thirty-third proceeded by the river road, and marching five miles the first night, encamped on a deserted plantation. While halting by the way, General McClellan appeared, and after addressing the men a few encouraging words, urged the necessity of marching as rapidly as possible. The moon shone. brightly, but the air was chilly, and many who had thrown away their blankets suffered from the cold and heavy dew. The following day, Sunday, the march was resumed at six o'clock, and continued until three in the afternoon. The Regiment marched seventeen miles, crossing the Chickahominy near its mouth on a pontoon bridge—the longest ever constructed in this country-consisting of ninety-six boats, anchored about twenty feet apart.
A PATRIOTIC SWEDISH COLONEL.
Among other craft lying here was the steamer Matamora, which had conveyed a portion of the Thirty-third from Alexandria to Fortress Monroe. The troops encamped in a wheat-field on an elevated spot about one-fourth of a mile back from the river. All danger of an attack from the enemy was now past, and they slept soundly after their long and wearisome march. The country for miles back in the interior was very flat, almost on a level with the river's bank, and abounded in swamps and marshes. Evidences of ruin and decay were seen all along the route. The orchards had frequently been so neglected that a second growth of trees had sprung up and grown through the limbs of the older ones, presenting an anomalous sight. Col. Vegesack, who had been assigned to the 20th New York, now took command of the Brigade, and Lieutenant-Colonel Corning returned to the Regiment. Col. Vegesack, who had obtained a furlough from the Swedish army to cross the water and fight in behalf of the Union, was a brave and beloved officer. While the first battle of Fredericksburg was in progress, he received an extension of time, and in announcing the fact to his men on the field, added; “My soldiers, I fight from patriotism: you fight from patriotism and for country; I expect that you will fight well.”
The next day the Regiment marched fifteen miles, passing through Williamsburg. The inhabitants manifested in various ways their delight at seeing the army retreating, which four months before had marched so victoriously in the opposite direction.